April 12, 1999 - Monday
Steve Site 1 and 2
Roads: 224 - 46 - 63 to Paste Creek Road and then up the Tom's Meadow.
With Steve and Cliff. Mild day. No rain. Steve drove his truck and I rode on the jumper seat. Not bad, the little window opened so I could get some air. Cliff wanted to ride there on the way back, but I won't let him do that again his knee.
Set up Steve Sites 1 & 2 with bait and I-R operated cameras. Trapper Steve had bought the ones from Cabela's and they had worked fine in his house tests. Went up Collawash River road to past the third bridge - the area at the bottom of Paste Creek.
Steve Site 1:
Up on the ridge. Good steep climb, our memories weren't bad. Kind of nice when we got up there. Early spring temperatures and some greening. I went south to the blow down area to check dirt and Cliff and Steve set up the site. I came back about 30 minutes later, barely into the blow downs and worried I'd miss something. They already had the camera secured to a tree and were just getting set to hoist Steve's attractor up into position. Steve was just finishing putting up a 35 mm camera film canister for an attraction. The little canister had a cotton ball soaked in trapping scent and was hanging from a limb. Trapping scent is available in many flavors from trapping supply houses.
He called this scent "Big Stinky" because it was so strong that he put it in not one, but two glass jars to try and hold in the scent. He used rubber gloves to handle it.
The site was very simple. It was basically on the game trail along the ridge that had no deer or elk tracks. It was not in brush and was under some tall trees. Steps away was the steep fall off into the Collawash River canyon. The ravine with the blow down trees was to the south of the site. In front of it -to the east - was a flat terrain that went some distance and then went up the base of Granite Peaks. It was in the exact area that "spooked" us on Thursday. We didn't have that feeling today.
Cliff was pretty impressed with the site and the area. He is 6'2" tall and the blow downs were generally much taller than him. He felt that not a lot of people had been up there, partly because of the road closure, but mainly because of the steep climb. We knew there was road access from the east side of the plateau, but we didn't see anything human except a very old cameo jacket in the duff.
Trapper S. and I think that Cliff twisted his knee getting up there, because he didn't have the regular Cliff smile and talk. Took us a while to get back down. The rest of the day, he wanted to stay close to the rig and in the back seat. I put the seat far forward to give him room to stretch his leg out. If the rest of us get to be as tough as Cliff, we'll be lucky.
The day was now even better after we got out from under the tree canopy. Mild, nice, high and broken clouds, warm and a gentle breeze blew from the southwest. No insects were out, except a few down by the river. The snow had noticeably melted since Thursday at higher elevations. It was perfect weather for an outing.
Steve Site 2:
East of the third Collawash River bridge near the river bank:
This site was basically along the river below the ridge where Steve Site 1 was located. It was a hard walk through river bottom brush to get there, even though it was only about a ¼ mile walk. A slight rise above the river banks had a small flat spot next to the cliff face. There was a game trail and there were a few deer tracks around, but no elk tracks.
We used the second I-R operated camera at this site and we used the "bait bucket." I had made the bait bucket with the advise of my comrades out of a 5 gallon plastic pail. I took ½" hardware screen and had cut and bent it at an angle at virtually every weave to hopefully catch skin and hair. Steve and I had stapled it to the bucket with an industrial duty staple gun, using a piece of 2 by 4 to catch the stapler's impact. The prongs that the cut wire left seemed severe, but to us, they were not worse than blackberry vine thorns. At least, that's what we told ourselves. If a human got an arm ripped by one of the sets of cut wire, it would take a visit to a hospital to repair.
Using some string to angle the bucket up, we hung it from a tree about 10 feet from the camera. In it we loaded 2 cans of Spam, lettuce, apples, cabbage and some other stuff that was on sale at the produce department. I had drilled many holes in the bucket to allow drainage of fluids. That may or may not have been a good decision. It was a sort of will the bucket bring down the limb if it had a load of water or would we loose scent of rotting things.
Up above, we used the neat little attractor that Steve had developed. Down here, I hung a CD revolving lure up the steep slope above the bait and camera station. I also set out a flasher up the slope. We also put a flasher down closer to the river in the brush. The alders had not leafed out yet, so it should have had some good visibility, especially from up high. Cliff had made a really neat revolving CD lure with a three of them hanging in a series. It was a simple, mobile, visual and effective apparatus.
At Steve Site 2, we used a different scent for an attractant. Steve had used jack mackerel before for trapping. I had never seen any of the product. I bought 2 cans at K-Mart for $.99 a can and that was 16 oz. on sale for the "good stuff." While I was up hanging the flashers and CD lures, Steve opened the cans. I should have smelled a rat when he told me that I wouldn't be using the can opener for much else after that.
When I came back down into the clearing, the place stunk! It was gross. I went to wipe my hands on some moss and they came out stinking like rotten fish. Steve and Cliff laughed. That was where they had dumped some of the stinking oil that was left in the can. They both said they wouldn't have let me wipe there, if they had seen what I was doing. Anyway, as we worked back to the truck, I went down to the river bank to wash my hands in sand and water. The water was very, very cold. Saw a rock shelter on the other side that looked promising. We walked out on the bridge and Cliff glassed it. Said it was an illusion, that the overhang was just all incline with no place for a critter to rest.
We were all tired. We drove down the road that paralleled the Collawash on the south side. All gravel, but in good shape. Nice areas to work for the BHB's. One spot looked down to the bait sites. We felt we had picked well. Nothing else to really say about the area behind the river, except it was good habitat. Near the far end was the lower end of Paste Creek. An old style Forest Service sign was still there! They are rare, normally they are shot up or stolen. It's almost a requirement to be a red-neck in the woods to shoot signs full of holes, the slobs, the forest pigs.
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